About twenty years ago I began working with Affirmations and Intentions and the Law of Attraction, with the concepts of thoughts as things, and the collective consciousness of the universe -- all the stuff that's recently re-emerged into the general awareness through books like The Secret and authors like Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle.
My introduction to these ideas and concepts came when a friend and I stumbled into a Science of Mind church in Glendale, California, where they happened to be at the beginning of an eight-week course in Manifesting Abundance. Since my friend and I were both a bit impoverished at the time, it seemed like a good idea to stay and see what unfolded.
So we stayed, and for eight weeks at that church we wrote things down on pads of paper, we made lists, we meditated on our purpose, we affirmed our desires, we visualized achieving our goals. We were told to go home and practice our affirmations and visualizations, to come back the following Sunday for another booster shot of positive thinking, and we did. And I'm glad we did, because twenty years later I'm here to testify: this stuff works.
But let me add one caveat: it doesn't necessarily work the way you think it does.
The basic idea of affirmations, and setting intention, and visualization, is to figure out what you want, commit yourself to your goal, and let the universe help guide you wherever it is you want to go. You name the "what" and let the universe handle the "how." Simple? Yes. Easy? Hardly.
Here are some things I've learned in the past twenty years about getting what you want.
1. You don't always know what you want, and you don't always want what you think you want. From the time you were born, you have been receiving all kinds of messages telling you what it is you should want, what you're good for, what you can expect for yourself, what you deserve. You have been trained to want things that might not have anything to do with what you really want.
2. You can get what you think you want, and still not have what you really want. See #1.
3. Other people often want things for you that you confuse for what you want for you. Parents and spouses are sometimes guilty of laying their own desires onto your shoulders. You can waste an awful lot of time going after someone else's dream.
4. If you examine your life it will be clear what you've been programmed to want because your life will be full of it. It may not be what you really want, but if you've been operating on default, what you have is indeed what you've been asking for. If what you have is not what you really want, it's time to ask for something else.
5. The hardest part about Affirmations and Setting Intention is figuring out what you really want. Sometimes the search to uncover our deepest desires seems overwhelming. If you've been operating on default for a long time, you may have to sift through a lot of programming to find out what makes your heart sing. But the answer is in there. For a clue, try to recall what you wanted out of life when you were nine or ten and go from there.
But remember the caveat. When I was ten, I thought I wanted a horse. What I really wanted was to be free. It's taken me a lot of years to recognize that the one was actually a symbol for the other. This is why I say that Affirmations, Intentions, and the Law of Attraction don't work the way you might think they do. The process is less linear than it may appear, and more dream-like, more Jungian.
Once you get clear about what you really (really, really!) want -- the only affirmation you need is the one that says "Yes." But getting free and clear of all that other stuff, now that is probably the work of a lifetime.